Lessons from a leather cushion

Jesus Calms the Storm 

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4 v35-41 

I love this account in Mark’s gospel as it clearly shows the very human side of Jesus. The crowds had been with Him all day and Jesus had delivered a full teaching programme to His disciples and the crowds who were thronging around Him. Jesus had taught the lessons of the new kingdom and His parables and by late afternoon He would have been drained and exhausted. Had He gone on to the shore from the borrowed boat the crowd would have followed Him and so at His request they launched the boat out on to the lake. But even then, a little flotilla of small boats attempted to follow. There was to be no respite for the weary Jesus. He needed time to be away from the crowd, to find a little solitude, peace, and rest. Mark tells us that Jesus was asleep on a cushion in the stern of the boat. The stern of the boat had a wooden bench with perhaps a leather cushion placed on it where a boatman could take a rest or even sleep for a while. It was here that Jesus was fast asleep. 

I love the reality and the personal touch of the details that Mark adds to the account. Jesus is weary and sleeps. Sometimes for us too, being with the crowd, no matter how wonderful, can be draining and it is not wrong to want to be in a quiet, solitary place. We all need rest, recovery, and recuperation at times.  

The boats were heading towards the Gentile lands of the Gadarenes on the other side of the lake. A sudden and violent storm appeared which threatened to overwhelm and endanger the boat. Storms were common on the lake and the experienced sailors would be used to handling their boats in the many different weather conditions, squalls, and storms. But this storm was different- fierce and frightening and the waves threatened to capsize the boat. They had never seen anything like this before. The wind was a tempest and the raging waves large enough to overwhelm and sink the boat. The sailors feared for their lives. And yet in the storm, Jesus remained asleep on a cushion in the stern of the tossing boat. 

The sailors had done all that they could to stabilize the boat and feared shipwreck and loss of life, and so finally, in desperation, they woke up the sleeping saviour and called out, “save us Lord, we are dying.” 

There was panic, alarm, fear, distress, and manic activity to deal with the emergency but Jesus calmly took control of the situation. In His calm voice and with quiet authority, He ordered peace to the wind and stillness to the waves and the storm immediately disappeared and all was calm. Jesus then challenged His disciples. Surely you should realize that because I am with you then no harm will come to you. The boat could not be lost while ever Jesus was with them. His followers only then began to realize the nature and the power of this Jesus. “Who then is this that the wind and the waves obey Him?” The sudden calmness and stillness were perhaps just as alarming as the storm had been. 

He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven. 

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Psalm 107 v 23-29 

Sometimes we may wonder where Jesus is when we are going through the mill and dealing with tough situations or when we hear of frightening things happening in our world. It may seem as if Jesus is not aware of our distress and inactive or that He is even sleeping. But He is there. He is always there. Call out to Him. The simplest of prayers will do-Help! 

Wake up, Lord! Why are you asleep?
Rouse yourself Don’t reject us forever! 

Why are you hiding from us?
Don’t forget our suffering and trouble! 

We fall crushed to the ground;
we lie defeated in the dust.
Come to our aid!
Because of your constant love save us! 

Psalm 44 v 23-24 GNT 

When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace; you alone, O Lord, keep me perfectly safePsalm 4 v 8 


Lord I am weary. I am overwhelmed and my energy is low. I need your rest. I need your resources. 

This world is sometimes a disturbing and a frightening place. The world news is distressing. Yet I know that you are there. We need your voice to bring peace and stillness to a troubled world. 

We are troubled by what is happening in Ukraine and we cry out, “Help, Lord.” We pray for your peace. 


Jane Coates 

Sunday February 27th. In communion with Jesus, and 5,000 of his hungry followers

This Sunday, February 27th we shall be taking a look at one of the most famous and best loved miracles in the entire bible – the feeding of the five thousand.

Starting at 11am in church and on the MBC YouTube channel the service will be our usual challenging mix of song, story telling, and prayer. This week, however, we are finishing the service with an act of communion, so if you’re intending to join us on line don’t forget to get your wine and bread ready in advance.

Also, don’t get panicky if you think we have forgotten to slot in something for our children, No, while we are unpacking Mark chapter 6 verses 33 to 44 they will be next door doing exactly the same but in a much more child friendly and possibly much noisier manner. 

Fairtrade, climate, chocolate and us

Chocolate has been in our lives a long time – as a treat or maybe a daily indulgence! We may be finishing Christmas chocolates as Easter, and its Chocolate Eggs, approaches.

Cocoa for chocolate grows on trees in big pods with their precious seeds which are extracted by hand and dried, roasted and ground. Tending the trees and harvesting is labour intensive and can involve child labour. The main producers are in West Africa especially Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). BUT there are threats to our supply of cocoa. As the climate warms the harvest diminishes and farmers find it hard to make a living.

Fairtrade comes in here. It does what it says by paying a fair price to farmers so they can send their children to school, access healthcare and improve their living conditions. The FT premium paid to local communities enables them to spend on education, healthcare, transport, better water supplies etc. – things we tend to take for granted. It also helps people to adapt their farming to changing climate conditions – vital for long term survival.

We are in the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight from February 21st to March 6th Local supermarkets including The Co-op, Waitrose, Aldi and Sainsbury’s etc are displaying a selection of goods with the Fairtrade Logo including chocolate, tea, coffee, bananas, wine, flowers sugar, honey, peanut butter. They cost a little more than their non-fairtrade equivalents. BUT if you choose Fairtrade you will be helping producers in developing countries and doing something towards combatting and adapting to Climate Change. And, dare I say it, demonstrating something of the Kingdom of God.


PS Some of you will remember our occasional after – church Fairtrade Stalls selling goods from the Christian Company Traidcraft. If you would like to see them revived, and would support them please let Roger Robson know by text on 07929100598 or by emailing roger.robson1@ntlworld.com  


Queenshill Gardeners… Together for our Planet community project launched at MBC

With the aid of a National Lottery grant totalling more than £9,000 Queenshill Gardeners launched their Together for our Plant at MBC this week. 

The event attracted more than 60 people, both young and old who together set about thinking what they as a  community could do at a local level to combat the effects of climate change.

Throughout the day visitors joined in a number of fun activities, discussions and workshops, from sculpting Play Dough fruit and veg to constructing water filtration units each designed to raise awareness and to protect our planet’s precious resources. 

Our local MP Fabian Hamilton responded to project organiser Lizzi Pell’s opening welcome by declaring and sharing his enthusiasm for such initiatives.   

Today’s event is the first of four which will take place throughout 2022. So watch out for future dates. 

Welcome to those of you who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, questioning, well-heeled or down at heel. We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers.

We came across this the other day. It says on Google that it’s the welcome you see when you visit Coventry Cathedral (above). However, further research show that across the UK, and I dare say throughout the world many other churches also use it . Whoever wrote it and wherever it originated I hope MBC won’t get into too much bother for plagiarism. 

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, questioning, well-heeled or down at heel. We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers.

We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You’re welcome here if you’re ‘just browsing,’ just woken up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven’t been to church since Christmas ten years ago.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome keep-fit mums, football dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters.

We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, are down in the dumps or don’t like ‘organised religion.’ (We’re not that keen on it either!)

We offer a welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or are here because granny is visiting and wanted to come to the Cathedral.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither.

We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throat as kids or got lost on the ring road and wound up here by mistake.

We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters… and you!

Lessons from the watchtower

I will climb my watchtower now and wait to see what answer God will give to my complaint. Habakkuk 2 v 1 

Watchtowers have been built since the earliest of times and were frequently built as part of a defending wall and occasionally as a single structure on high ground as an important lookout station. We have had the privilege of walking on a part of the Great Wall of China and discovering its beautiful watchtowers. In its original design and form The Great Wall is thought to have had 25,000 watchtowers built along its length.  

The watchtower had several very important functions. As I was thinking about this, for me, the most important aspect was the watchtower as a place of resource and supply. It was where all supplies were kept and so was the place of supply. It was also the place of safety, security, and refuge. The watchtower was the place of communication, to give and receive signals and give an early warning. The watchtower was a beacon, a significant landmark, and could even be thought of as a lighthouse as it was always built with a clear view of the landscape. Often signalling fires would be lit at the watchtowers. 

There are a few times that the word watchtower occurs in the bible. The prophet Habakkuk spoke of retiring to his watchtower while he waited for God to respond to his struggles and questions. Habakkuk had foreseen God’s judgement on His people and the downfall of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians, and he was struggling with some very tough questions. “God why are you doing this and why are you doing it this way?” He took his frustration, struggles, questions, and confusion to God, and in his waiting at the watchtower, he was giving God time to respond in His own good time. He knew that God would answer him. The watchtower would be his quiet place of retreat while he prayed and waited. He would watch and wait, confident and expectant that God would speak and answer.  

Unless the LORD builds the house,  they labour in vain who build it. Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise early, to retire late, to eat the bread of anxious labours. For He gives blessings to His beloved even in his sleep. Psalm 127 v 1-2 

 If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap. It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?  The Message Version 

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of troublePsalm 9 v 9 

You have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy. Psalm 61 v 3 

PRAY   Lord, we watch and wait in your watchtower. This is our place of supply and where your resources for us are to be found. When we are confused, troubled, dismayed and don’t know the way ahead, we come to you in the watchtower and wait to hear your voice. Give us patience as we wait. Don’t let us run ahead with our own building plans. We are in a place of resource and supply. You long to bless. May we trust you. Amen

Jane Coates

Sunday Feb 20… how do we love?

Dear friends

Yesterday I sat in Chapel Allerton and saw the snow fall at a pace from the skies!  I travelled back to Leeds city centre, only 15 minutes away, sat in the flat I am temporarily staying in, and there is no snow…I realised that things look differently depending on where you are sitting.  And so it is with us.  Even just 15 minutes away in the same city and we can have a totally different view with different concerns and experiences.  We carry these with us…and that’s again why its so important when it comes to faith in Jesus that we ‘Seek first’ (Matthew 6:33) to quote our theme from the start of the year, because so many other things can come to take that place, depending on where we are sitting.  That doesn’t mean our viewpoint isn’t important, on the contrary, Jesus encourages us to “Wake up and look around..”(John 4:35) but we need to ask, where is God in this view?  What does God want me/us to see? 

Today we continue to look at Jesus through Mark’s gospel with a focus on Mark 12:28-34… How do we love?  It will be live in the building from 11-12 and on the Moortown Baptist Youtube Channel.  There will be an all age focus with something practical to make for those who like to learn in this way. 

It’s the start of half term but Beacon café will still be on.  Do come along and share a coffee/chat/pastry/or just be, from 10-12.   Just before 12midday there is an opportunity to pray together and lift those on our hearts to God with others. 

On Tuesday we partner with the Queenshill gardeners project, a newly funded project in the community on a climate awareness day in church.  Its a day where we hear/share climate/environment concerns creatively but all ages are invited to make water filters for their homes/streets. No previous experience needed.  There is a free lunch and it will run from 10.30 until mid afternoon.

More news on the run up to Easter to come over the next few days…

Hope to see you soon

In Christ

Shelley Dring

Sunday 13th Feb… 11am in church and on YouTube. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief”

Over the last few weeks we have been following a series on Sundays called Seek First.  The aim was to intentionally put God at the centre of all our decision making, thoughts, worship, at the start of the new year as we looked at ‘what are we building?’ All ages engaged with the Bible passages on Sundays as we considered the cornerstone, foundations, Nehemiah and living stones.

Thanks to all who have shared in leading worship and teaching over the last few weeks.  We have all been blessed and enriched by sharing with each other.  It’s been good to have gathered together with you either in person or online on this journey since Christmas; but there is more…   

This Sunday we continue to Seek First…a sort of ‘Seek First part 2’, a series looking into the gospel of Mark.  It can become overwhelming at times when we think about the kingdom of God and how we truly seek his kingdom before all other agendas, but one way to overcome this is to realise that it is not simply about the expectations we or others have on us, but rather it’s about a relationship with the King himself.

I will send you a list of the passages in the next few days so that you can have a look in advance or you may want to contribute something on a Sunday or even chat or pray about it with one or two others in the week.  There will be opportunities to engage in different ways as the series develops. 

This week we start with a passage from Mark 9 where we meet a young man who’s son is healed by Jesus and declares to Jesus, “I believe, help me with my unbelief”.


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